Return to Transcripts main page

Lou Dobbs Tonight

Obama Pushes for Health Care Reform; Gun Owners Say Obama Threatens Second Amendment Rights

Aired July 21, 2009 - 19:00   ET



President Obama trying to silence his critics and opponents of his controversial health care plan. The president declares the time for talk is through. We'll have the very latest on ebbing poll numbers and rising opposition to health care.

Opponents of the president health care proposals refusing to be intimidated. Polls showing the president loosing support dramatically. We'll examine this increasingly nasty battle in our "Face Off" debate, here tonight.

And a rising number of gun owners across the country say the president is threatening their Second Amendment rights. They're rushing out to gun shops to buy ammunition. We'll have a special report on what is now a critical nationwide shortage of ammunition.

We begin tonight with the president's last-ditch efforts to sell his health care plan. President Obama made another public statement trying to convince skeptical lawmakers to pass proposals before the August recess, his statement coming a day before his prime-time news conference, which will be tomorrow evening, when health care is likely to be, of course, the very top issue.

President Obama's patience on the issue is running out, and so is much of the public's. In a conference call with liberal bloggers last night the president said the time for talk is through. Dan Lothian has our report from the White House - Dan.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As the clock ticks on health care reform President Obama again hit the rewind button and played back his talking points, a shot at his critics ...

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These opponents of reform would rather score political points than offer relief to Americans who have seen premiums double.

LOTHIAN: ... a case for reform ...

OBAMA: That will bring down long-term costs, expand coverage, and provide more choice.

LOTHIAN: ...and powerful endorsements. OBAMA: The American Nurses Association and the American Medical Association have announced their support for reform.

LOTHIAN: Little has changed in the president's message since returning from his overseas trip.

OBAMA: The status quo on health care is the status quo.

And I will not defend the status quo!

LOTHIAN: Just about every day since July 13th Mr. Obama has made public remarks on health care reform. But are his comments helping to move the ball any closer to the goal line?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Very little indication that all of the rhetoric is moving things positively in his direction.

LOTHIAN: If Mr. Obama is paying any attention to the polls the latest one, from "USA Today" shows he's losing public support. The president's approval on health care reform has dropped below 50 percent.

GERGEN: I think what's driving it is partly that people are seeing all sorts of plans being presented. They all seem to have high price tags, even sticker shock.

LOTHIAN: But no surrender from the White House . Spokesman Robert Gibbs says the August deadline was meant to prod Congress and the president expects results.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is just part of the process. We're going to come back here after the August break and still have work to do on health care.

LOTHIAN (on camera): David Gergen says the White House is in a difficult position. On the one hand, if they continue to push that August deadline some of the American people might think they're trying to ram it through. On the other hand, if they wait, everything could fall apart. Dan Lothian, CNN, the White House.


DOBBS: House Majority Leader Denny Hoyer, today, acknowledged Democrats are struggling trying to reach agreement on the president's health care proposals. Hoyer says he hopes lawmakers don't have to stay in session after the official start of their August recess. But he didn't rule it out.

Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee today canceled their mark up session on the bill. They ended up at the White House, meeting with the president, who was lobbying them to move ahead with the work that's now obviously being delayed.

Democrats on Capitol Hill tonight continue their efforts to reach a deal and trying -they're trying desperately to meet that deadline. But there are so many major differences on how to pay for the plan, the possibility of a public option to compete with private insurance plans, a host of other issues. Candy Crowley has our report from Washington.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Behind closed doors Senate moderates, Republicans and Democrats, are struggling to put together a way to reform health care that is mutually acceptable.

Elsewhere Washington is a Tower of Babel. A president looking for public reinforcement, complaining that unnamed critics are trying to kill his efforts to remake the system.

OBAMA: These opponents of reform would rather score political points than offer relief to Americans who have seen premiums double and costs grow three times faster than wages.

CROWLEY: And a Republican leader trying to stand firm without looking obstructionist.

SEN. MITCH MCONNELL, (R) MINORITY LEADER: This is not about winning or losing. This is about getting it right. And we saw with the stimulus, the effort to rush and spend, what can happen.

CROWLEY: Differences over the role of the federal government and the costs of reform do not split evenly along party lines. Conservative Democrats have some of the same objections as the Republican colleagues, too pricey, too fast. But there's nothing like partisanship to rev up the faithful, so the president and friends are framing Republicans as tools of big business.

SEN. HARRY REID, (D-NV) MAJORITY LEADER: Republicans aren't interested in working with Democrats to fix this problem. That's pretty clear. They simply want to maintain the status quo, in keeping the insurance industry in charge of health care delivery.

CROWLEY: Republicans are accusing Democrats of trying to ram through a bad bill for victory's sake.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) MINORITY LEADER: Mr. President, it's time to scrap this bill. Let's start over in a bipartisan way. I'm encouraged that there are members on my side of the aisle working with Democrats, trying to find a way forward.

CROWLEY: The partisan edge to the health care debate is growing noticeably sharper. Honed by the high stakes and a public unconvinced that Congress, or the president, is on the right track.


CROWLEY: Many members of Congress are uncertain. House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters it's not just the Blue Dogs, that is, conservative Democrats, it's progressives and everybody in between who have concerns.

Tomorrow the president has his news conference. Thursday he goes to the Cleveland Clinic to talk health care -Lou.

DOBBS: And today -- a press conference in the Rose Garden. Called at 12:15; he's 45 minutes late. And by the account of everyone I've talked with had nothing new within those comments on health care. What is going on here?

CROWLEY: Well, I'll tell you, there are people on Capitol Hill who I've talked to who have noticed that very thing. They say, listen, he's saying the same things over and over again. That's fine. It's a sales pitch. But we need to know where he stands on some of the specifics. Because the president, as you know, as he did with the stimulus bill, has said, here's the broad parameters and then sort of thrown it to Congress. And then what you get are all these competing plans. None of which are acceptable to somebody up on Capitol Hill.

So they truly are, at least some of them, on Capitol Hill looking for him to come out and say I want this. I want this. I want this. I want this. He likes to go in sort of later in the debate.

DOBBS: Well, it is late in this debate. Particularly for a president who is insisting that the talk is over. When many people would say the talk hasn't begun because there have been no broad public hearings. No great debate about this.

We have still no estimate - reliable estimate about cost. The numbers -- you know, here is -- at a billion dollars a page here -here is what we're looking at. And no way to pay for it because this president said we're out of money. He said that everything would be budget neutral as of Friday. As of today we're hearing from all of the budget chiefs that they didn't even include the cost of doctors' fees for crying out loud.

CROWLEY: One of the things that's happening that sort of underscores that point. You heard Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, talk about it. Is that we are now, there are some people are looking at the economy going, you know, what the heck has happened here? We poured $800 billion into it. Has it really worked?

We're also seeing with the TARP program that we're not exactly sure what the banks are doing with that money - yet again. So Congress, not just the Republicans, but other Democrats up on Capitol Hill are saying, wait a second. Let's really look at how we're going to spend this money, much less where we're going to get this money.

DOBBS: Correct.

As the president himself noted, this government doesn't have any more money. And already talking about tax hikes at a time when, as of yesterday, Neil Barofsky reporting that the bailout is going to cost an estimated $24 -almost, $24 trillion. These are issues that should, it seems, I think, be talked about. One would think, rather than talk before closed.

Thank you very much. Appreciate it, so much. Candy Crowley.

CROWLEY: Sure. DOBBS: President Obama frequently declares that his health care plans will lead to a much more efficient health care system. However, that is not what the president said just yesterday. In fact, he accidentally said the reverse. Let's listen.


OBAMA: The reforms we seek would bring greater competition, choice, savings, and inefficiencies to our health care system.


DOBBS: As you heard the president misspeak there. The president said his reforms will lead to inefficiencies, not efficiencies. Of course, he met efficiencies. The White House didn't seem too troubled. A spokesman said, everyone knew exactly what the president was saying, and indeed, the White House is right.

Another opinion poll today showing President Obama losing support among the American people on the issue of health care. The Public Strategy's Politico poll shows only 54 percent of Americans now trust the president, compared with 66 percent back in March. This is just the latest in a series of polls showing falling support for the president.

One reason for his declining support may be the president's failure to meet a series of self-imposed deadlines. Including one on how to treat suspected terrorists detained in Guantanamo Bay prison. That report was originally scheduled to be released today. It will now be published in six months.

The Obama administration has also delayed publication of a report on interrogation policy. The task force writing that report has been given a two month extension on its deadline. The president is also delaying a White House view of the federal budget by one month. It will now come out in August.

The administration has failed to release details of that $100 million in government spending cuts that he ordered his department secretaries to deliver three months ago. The White House says details will now be published, quote, "in coming days".

So, we're following the president's self-imposed deadline with a new report card on this broadcast. And the president's report is now two days overdue. We'll keep you right up to date.

Still ahead here, more on the bailout watchdog, Neil Barofsky, and that massive $24-trillion estimate of the government's financial Rescue & Recovery programs.


NEIL BAROFSKY, INSPECTOR GENERAL, TARP: If numbers are inflated, then it was the government itself that inflated them, not us.

(END VIDEO CLIP) DOBBS: There you have it. Lawmakers saying the bailout program is simply out of control.

And a troubling new example of waste and fraud in the federal government. Yes, this time it's in the Department of Defense, again.


DOBBS: Some people on Capitol Hill are absolutely angry about the government's new estimate of the soaring cost of the financial bailouts, and so-called rescue programs. By one estimate, and it is the most authoritative, all of those programs could cost federal taxpayers $24 trillion, just about twice the size of our annual economy.

The bailout watchdog who came out with the estimate is Neil Barofsky. And today he was on Capitol Hill defending his report. He hit back quickly at his critics in the Treasury Department.


BAROFSKY: If the numbers are inflated then it was the government, itself, that inflated them, not us. Secondly, was as far as the suggestion that we are trying to shock and awe with this number, again, I think that we've made very clear in this report, in black and white, what this number means. The number is, basically, just the accumulation of what these 50 separate programs are, and what the total amount of financial support that the government has committed to.


DOBBS: The Treasury Department, however, still insisting that Barofsky's $24 trillion figure is inflated, as they put it. We should point out, Barofsky is the special inspector general at the TARP program, doing precisely what he was hired to do.

We've been following California's budget disaster closely and reporting to you over the past month. Tonight, we say only that it appears the State of California is a step closer to paying its bills with real money instead of those IOUs. All we can say is it appears so. The state government has been issuing those IOUs now for nearly three weeks.

Governor Schwarzenegger and state legislators say they have a deal to close that $26-billion budget gap. But some are upset about proposed cuts to programs like education and public safety. Others are upset because they haven't closed the deficit with reduction in spending. Casey Wian has our report.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger compared the state's latest $26-billion deficit reduction deal to a Hollywood movie. GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, (R) CALIFORNIA: I want to thank the legislative leaders for hanging in there and negotiating all this, weeks. Especially, the last few hours. It was like a suspense movie.

WIAN: And California's lawmakers are already applauding.

DARREL STENBERG, (D) PRESIDENT, CALIF. SENATE: I want to congratulate the governor and my fellow legislative leaders.

WIAN: But the credits have yet to roll. Legislative leaders must persuade two-thirds of their rank-and-file to approve a plan that avoids new tax increases, but makes dramatic reductions in critical state services. They include nearly $9 billion from education over two years; $1.6 billion from health care for the poor, children, and the disabled, and more than $1 billion from prisons.

And $1.3 billion would be saved by requiring state workers to take three days off without pay each month. The state also plans to divert $4 billion from cities and counties, with a promise to repay half of it. Los Angeles county may sue.

MICHAEL ANTONIVICH, L.A. COUNTY SUPERVISOR: What's taking place in Sacramento today is really highway robbery of local government resources.

ZEV YAROSLOVSKY, L.A. COUNTY SUPERVISOR: It stinks. It smells. It is bad public policy.

WIAN: California is one of eight states that failed to reach budget agreements by the start of the current fiscal. Five still haven't. New York's legislature was gridlocked in a political power struggle for five weeks this summer. Now there's another delay that is threatening the finances of New York City schools. Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants drastic action.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R) NEW YORK CITY: The governor can call back the state legislature, every single day, in Albany. And he can send the state troopers to drag them back unless they're out of the state, and he should do that.

WIAN: In California parts of the budget deal are clearly accounting gimmicks. Lawmakers agreed to shift a payday for state workers from June 30th to July 1st, pushing more than a billion dollars in salary to the next fiscal year. The plan also accelerates personal and corporate tax collections to bring money into the state treasury sooner.


WIAN: Those provisions combined with speculative measures, such as savings from state asset sales, and new revenue from offshore oil drilling, could mean lawmakers will need to repeat their deficit reduction performance in the not too distant future. That is unless the economy rebounds so quickly that state revenue increases faster than expected, Lou.

DOBBS: Any sign of an improvement in revenues in California?

WIAN: Absolutely not. It's just the opposite, Lou. As a matter of fact, tax revenues are down 30 percent so far this year. That's one of the reasons why this big budget hole existed, Lou.

DOBBS: That big budget hole that the governor and the leadership of the legislature said they closed, it looks to me to be somewhere between, about, $7 billion to $10 billion short. Where are they going to get that money?

And, by the way, before you answer that -how could these people be negotiating and be surprised they would have to cut expenditures by the state government in order to meet a budget deficit? Why should there be any surprise about that?

WIAN: Well, I don't think there's been any surprise about that. They've known all along they were going to have to cut. What Governor Schwarzenegger and Republicans have been holding the line on is not raising taxes. They say they've succeed in doing that this time. It's just a matter of how deeply are we going to cut. They've made much deeper cuts in education than a lot of people expected. But a lot of these gimmicks are out there. And a lot of these speculative measures that we mentioned are out there. It could be that this budget deficit could grow again despite this agreement, even if it's passed by the legislature, Lou.

DOBBS: An agreement which isn't quite yet won. All right. Thank you very much, Casey Wian, from Los Angeles.

Tens of thousands of jobs in California, and other states, are at risk after the Senate today voted to kill the F-22 Raptor fighter jet program. The Senate voted 58-40 to end production of the F-22. They will finish production at 187 of the aircraft. Senator John McCain co-sponsored the amendment to cut the funding for the F-22. Said the military has more important priorities.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: It's going to send a signal that we're stopping business as usual, and we must move forward providing the men and with the necessary means to win the struggles we are in throughout the world, especially the two wars.


DOBBS: The plane's manufacturer, Lockheed-Martin, says the F-22 program now employs 95,000 people in 44 states; 25,000 people directly, 70,000 indirectly. Defense Secretary Gates, however, says many jobs will be created in the military's newest fighter program, the F-35 Joint Strike fighter. It will also be built by Lockheed- Martin. Secretary Gates says the program will create more than 80,000 jobs.

The Pentagon tonight facing a multimillion-dollar payroll scandal; investigators found the Pentagon paid money to bank accounts held by people who had died; handed out money to workers with invalid Social Security numbers. Lisa Sylvester has the report.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The inspector general for the Department of Defense found that more than $15 million may have been improperly paid out to civilian accounts between 2002 and 2008; $900,000 to 134 deceased employees, more than $2 million to employees with registered birthdays that put them below the legal working age of 14; 98 employees using nonexistent Social Security numbers.

$50 million is a small amount compared to the $148 billion in civilian wages paid over the same period by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. But watchdog groups like the nonprofit and nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight say the findings raise the question: Does the Department of Defense really know who is on its payroll?

DANIELLE BRIAN, PROJECT ON GOV'T. OVERSIGHT: You would think they would have really strong internal controls of who are they actually paying on those payrolls?

According to the report, quote, "in 2006 one employee had a birth date of April, 1998 and received payments totaling over $12,236. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service declined an interview with CNN.

But the Department of Defense agency told the inspector general that the pay system, quote, included some form of coding error, but the payments were proper. Still lawmakers say there needs to be more of an effort to weed out any abuse.

SEN. DAVID VITTER, (R) LOUISIANA: If this waste and fraud is happening within Defense, just multiply that throughout the entire economy. Just think how much money is being fraudulently obtained or wasted, or sent out in an invalid way.

SYLVESTER (On camera): Senator David Vitter sponsored an amendment to an appropriations bill that would allow the Social Security Administration to notify employers when workers Social Security numbers do not match the numbers in their data base. That would apply to the private sector and the federal government. It's designed to flag and catch any coding errors or outright fraud. Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington.


DOBBS: Coming up next, will the Obama health care plan provide quality health care? Will it lead to rationing of health care? That is the subject of our "Face Off" debate tonight.

U.S. support for a leftist leader who wants to return to Honduras, well, it is having an impact on politics in the United States certainly.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: There are some in Congress apparently concerned about the Obama administration's support for a leftist leader removed from power in Honduras and forced to leave the country after he tried, in the opinion of the nation's supreme court, to violate its constitution. Critics say the Obama administration is supporting now a leader who ignored the Honduran constitution and is tied to a leftist leader by the name of Hugo Chavez. Kitty Pilgrim with our report.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Latin American compatriots, Leftist Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega advocates extending presidential term limits, Venezuela's leader Hugo Chavez won a referendum allowing him to stand indefinitely for re-election. Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya was ousted by the military after proposing a national vote on extending term limits.

President Obama says Zelaya should be restored to office, some Republicans say not so fast.

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R) FOREIGN AFFAIRS CMTE.: The Obama administration seems hell bent on just restoring one person to power and it doesn't matter that he ran roughshod over the constitution.

PILGRIM: It's not just Leftist leaders. Right wing president of Alvaro Uribe, of Colombia, engineered a constitutional change allowing him to run a second time. But in Zelaya's case conservative think tanks say the administration is misguided in choosing the same side as Chavez.

RAY WALSER, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Mr. Chavez has driven the train, to a large degree, on this. He's demanded that Zelaya be returned. He's threatened intervention.

PILGRIM: The Obama administration has repeatedly said Zelaya was illegally removed and supports his return, in the interest of democracy. Regional experts, like Dan Erikson, of Inter-American Dialogue, a nonpartisan think tank, say any negotiated solution must respect the constitution of Honduras.

DAN ERIKSON, INTER-AMERICAN DIALOGUE: The removal of a president by the military should not be viewed as acceptable. But at the same time, Zelaya was clearly engaged in a power grab.

PILGRIM: Secretary of State Clinton has warned the interim government in Honduras, of harsh consequences if they do not accept a proposal to end the political standoff and allow Zelaya to return home to office.


PILGRIM: Because the Obama administration support of Zelaya, some in Congress want to hold off the State Department's appointment of a top diplomat to the region, Arturo Valenzuela. He was questioned about the Obama policy during a committee hearing on July 9th. He appeared to hedge his answer, saying he was not familiar with all the details of the situation, Lou.

DOBBS: I'm sorry, what job is he --

PILGRIM: He's going to be the top regional diplomat.

DOBBS: And he's not familiar with what's going on in Honduras?

PILGRIM: That's quite a hedge on the answer, don't you think?

DOBBS: A hedge, one would hope it's a hedge. And he's not confessing abject ignorance about what's happening. Extraordinary.

Thank you very much, Kitty Pilgrim.

Up next, the Obama administration's stance on the Second Amendment leading to a shortage of ammunition all across the country. And President Obama launching a scathing attack on his critics and opponents of his health care plan.


OBAMA: Time and again the American people have suffered because people in Washington played the politics of the moment, instead of putting the interest of the American people first.


DOBBS: The president losing support in every recent public opinion poll. We'll examine the rhetoric, the issues in our "Face Off" debate, here, next.


DOBBS: President Obama making an all-out push to get his health care plan through Congress before the August recess. In doing so he's been harshly critical of his opponents, using what some are calling the rhetoric of fear. Let's listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Time and again we've heard excuses to delay and defeat reform. Time and again the American people have suffered because people in Washington played the politics of the moment.

This isn't about me. This is isn't about politics. This is about a health care system that is breaking America's families. Breaking America's businesses, and breaking America's economy.

Make no mistake. If we step back from this challenge at this moment we are consigning our children to a future of skyrocketing premiums and crushing deficits. And every single day we wait to act thousands of Americans lose their insurance. The American people are on board. It's now up to us.

(END VIDEO CLIP) DOBBS: Well, tomorrow the president holds a prime time news conference. And it will be live, of course, here on CNN at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

There are serious questions, critical questions about the cost of the president's plan. And also the quality of the health care that it might provide. And joining me now for tonight's "Faceoff" debate, Sally Pipe. She's president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute. She says the Obama plan is a disaster.

And Igor Volsky is a health care researcher at the Center for American Progress who says doing nothing will cost taxpayers three times as much in health care costs.

Thank you both for being here. Let's start, if I may, with you, Sally. You said the Obama health care plan means higher taxes, lower quality. We have, you know, one plan. Lots of different options here, it appears. How would the cost rise? How much?

SALLY PIPES, PACIFIC RESEARCH INSTITUTE: Well, you know, we just release, Lou, a study by Dr. Jeff Anderson that shows that since 1970 Medicare and Medicaid is 35 percent more expensive than private health insurance. So that worries me a lot, you know, and the CBO says by 2017 Medicare and Medicaid are going to be broke if we don't cut costs.

So the question is, you know, how do we reduce costs in health care? And I think the president's plan and what's going on in the House and the Senate are going to increase costs. We've got estimates somewhere between $1 trillion to $1.6 trillion.

And you know, you never see a government program that costs what politicians think it will cost. And the CBO has even said with the House plan, contrary to what a lot of people say, they say that it's going to take us about $239 billion into deficit. You know, within 10 years and it's going to be hugely expensive with big tax increases for all Americans.

DOBBS: Thanks. Igor, your thoughts on this?

IGOR VOLSKY, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, Lou, as you correctly know, many middle class American families are very concerned about the skyrocketing costs of health care.

Now I would again point to the CBO report that Sally Pipes just referenced. That same report said that the public health insurance option would reduce premiums for families by about 10 percent on average. So health reform, if we do it right, if we do it in a comprehensive manner, if it includes the public helps to turn plans, will lower costs for American families.

DOBBS: Well, you say it will. But that flies in the face of what the CBO is saying. It flies in the face of the revelation that the Obama plan doesn't even include paying for doctors fees, for crying out loud, which is over $200 billion. VOLSKY: Well, Lou, as the president has pointed out making sure that we don't have deficits down the road with this reform is very important to him, which is why he has proposed establishing an independent that will work to reorient the way our system and the way Medicare pays providers, hospitals and doctors. So making sure that we reward quality of care, not just the quantity of care. Those are all very important reforms that will lower costs in the long term.

DOBBS: Sally Pipes, I mean, your thoughts on that?

PIPES: Well, you know I come, Lou, from Canada. I'm an American now. But I grew up under government-run, single payer health care, which I think the Obama plan is going to do for all of us. And it turns out that when people think something is free they demand a lot more, but in Canada costs went way up. Government had to set a global budget at 10 percent.

As a result care had to be rationed. Long waiting lists for care. And lack of access to the latest technology. There's no question in my mind private insurer are going to be crowded out and we're all going to be left in the Medicare for all system.

VOLSKY: Lou...

PIPES: And we're going to have care rationed and it's going to be...


VOLSKY: Lou, I want to be very clear about something. And I want to make sure that Sally hears me. We are not importing a Canadian system into the United States. We're building an employer- based model. And again I turn to the CBO which found that under the House bill the number of people in private insurance, the number of people in employer-sponsored coverage would actually increase, not decrease.

It would increase. You would have about 20 million people -- I'm sorry, about 10 million people in the public option. And you'd have about 20 million people in the exchange in private insurance. We're increasing private insurance, not decreasing.

DOBBS: And what would be the total...

VOLSKY: We're not rationing care.

DOBBS: And what would be the total cost, Igor, of the president's health care proposal?

VOLSKY: It's about $1 trillion. But I would remind you that if you put that number in the context of inaction and the context of doing nothing, then $1 trillion is a very good investment for health care costs that would put many...

DOBBS: I appreciate... VOLSKY: Many middle class families into bankruptcy. This is what it's about. Preventing medical bankruptcy. We know that 68 percent of all bankruptcies have medical costs as a component. And 75 percent of those families already had insurance.

So we really want to make sure that insurance is adequate for families so that they're not spending too much and not going into bankruptcy. It's about the middle class.

DOBBS: Yes. About the middle class. $1 trillion. And at this point the most recent Gallup/"USA Today" poll shows now 50 percent of those surveyed are rejecting the president's handling of health care.

Sally Pipes, as we're sitting here, I hear these numbers. And frankly, the American people have got to be a little confused about what is happening. And the president is saying he wants this all by the first. Igor was kind enough to suggest that we do something thoughtful. But it sounds like that would be post passage that we would be thoughtful.

Is that correct, Igor?

VOLSKY: Well, Lou, I think we've been talking about health care for 50 years. This presidential campaign was about health care...

DOBBS: You're not suggesting because we've been talking about it we should just pass this?

VOLSKY: Oh, not at all and I think Congress has been debating it, for instance, in the health committee. They've spent about 13 days and mark up...


DOBBS: Igor, were you suggesting that we pass this and then fix it? Is that what you were...

VOLSKY: Oh, not at all. I'm suggesting that we do this in a thoughtful manner. And I think that the action...

DOBBS: Well, can we do that by the first of August?

VOLSKY: I think it's possible. We know that...

DOBBS: Really?

VOLSKY: Well, we know that the Kennedy bill in the health committee was debated for hours and hours and hours. We saw in the House they're debating it now. They're going late into the night debating this bill.

I think this is being discussed and this notion that it's being rammed through, I think, is highly inaccurate and is used by some on the political right to kill reform and to make this Obama's Waterloo as Senator DeMint said.

DOBBS: That's interesting. Sally, you get the last word.

PIPES: Thank you. Well, I think what we're going to see -- I don't think the plan will be through before -- any plan will be through before the recess. I think it will probably be in December. But we have to slow this down because the American people don't want higher taxes and lower quality health care. And that's what we're going to see.

VOLSKY: Slow this down mean kills it, Lou.

PIPES: And 82 percent of Americans like the health care that they have. We have 8 million who are chronically ill and uninsured. And those are the people that we should be taken care of.


PIPES: Not destroying our system.

DOBBS: Thank you both so much. Igor, thank you very much. Sally, thank you.

And I'll have a few thoughts about the president's health care proposals and the most recent public opinion polls. Please join me on the radio, Monday through Friday, for "The Lou Dobbs Show." 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each afternoon in WOR 710 Radio in New York.

And please go to to get the local listings for the show in your area. And please follow me on "Lou Dobbs News" on We'll be talking health care.

Also ahead, new developments in the health care showdown. Some Democrats are now saying they're baffled and frustrated by the president's position.

Also fears of new gun restrictions leading to a nationwide shortage of ammunition. And the battle over your right to carry licensed guns across state lines.

We return in one minute.


DOBBS: A passionate debate today on the Senate floor over a proposed law that allow gun owners to carry their weapons across state lines. Senator John Thune proposing gun owners be allowed to take their licensed guns from one state to another with some more laws. But opponents said the law would infringe on state's gun laws.

Brianna Keilar with our report.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Vermont, a 16-year-old can carry a loaded concealed weapon without a permit. But when a Vermonter crosses into neighboring New York, home to some of the strictest gun laws in the country, that right evaporates. Senator John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, wants to change that. He's pushing an amendment that would allow people with concealed weapon permits from their home states to carry their guns into other states that allow concealed weapons.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: Reliable research shows that states with concealed carry laws enjoy significantly lower violent crime rates than those states that do not.

KEILAR: But New York's Chuck Schumer and other Democratic senators representing states with large urban areas say changing the law will put Americans in danger.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: If the Thune amendment is adopted this hypothetical Vermonter would be free to stroll through Central Park or Times Square with a backpack full of loaded guns.

KEILAR: Despite a 60 vote majority in the Senate, many Democrats support gun rights including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has said he will vote for the Thune amendment.


KEILAR: And like many Democrats who will vote yes on this, Harry Reid is from a western state, Nevada, in his case where there's a strong tradition of gun ownership and also some pretty serious political consequences for bucking the will of gun right supporters and the National Rifle Association.

And we are told, Lou, by Republican top aides but also Democratic top aides they expect this will pass the Senate tomorrow when they vote on this expansion of gun rights.

DOBBS: That's impressive. I think some people are finding it surprising. And to hear Senator Schumer say that, there is nothing in the Thune amendment that would suggest, is there -- is Senator Schumer correct that because there are gun laws that will permit conceal to carry for a person in Vermont that they could ignore state laws prescribing them from doing so in New York? Or is that hyperbolae?

KEILAR: What -- in New York City. Yes. And you know, that's a question I had, Lou. So I put that to a Republican aide to John Thune's -- one of his top aides. And he told me that actually that would be the case. So I think it's a little bit fuzzy because New York City does have its own gun regulations but it appears that that could be the case.

DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much. Brianna Keilar.

There is a shortage of ammunition all across this country. This shortage is affecting police and sheriff departments as well as private gun owners and gun dealers. Now gun shops, and I mean from coast to coast, they're reporting a run on ammunition. Something that started right after the election of President Obama.

As Brooke Baldwin now reports, gun owners are growing increasingly concern that the president and the Democratically controlled Congress will restrict Second Amendment rights.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the firing range to the gun shop, gun makers and gun dealers say bullets are in short supply.

DAVID PERRY, GUNNY'S INDOOR SHOOTING RANGE: You're 380, and your 38, and still very scarce item.

BALDWIN: Even police departments are feeling the pinch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The orders are about six to nine months behind schedule.

BALDWIN: If bullets really are in short supply the question is why? Many point to politics.

LAWRENCE KEANE, NATIONAL SHOOTING SPORTS FOUNDATION: Given President Obama's track record in the Illinois Senate where he supported, you know, 500 percent increase in taxes on ammunition. So there was a lot of concern, and there remains a lot of concern about the Obama administration's intentions.

BALDWIN: Keane says there's also concerned that Congress led by a Democratic majority will move to limit Second Amendment rights. Political science professor and author Robert Spitzer says such fears are self perpetuating.

ROBERT SPITZER, AUTHOR, "THE POLITICS OF GUN CONTROL": Politically, it is a way for the gun rights community to rally supporters, to increase their membership, and to depict the Obama administration rightly or wrongly as this arch opponent of gun ownership and gun rights.

BALDWIN: During his campaign President Obama made a promise. Promise to defend the Second Amendment.

OBAMA: You've heard it here. I'm on television so everybody knows it. I believe in the Second Amendment. I believe in people's lawful right too bear arms. I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I won't take your handgun away.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: I hope he keeps those campaign promises. I'll tell you this, though, if they break them, the NRA and the American public will be there defending this freedom.


BALDWIN: Story definitely has some people talking today. In fact, one gun dealer says he tells time in two eras. He says it's a pre-Obama versus post-Obama auto supply era. But Lou, Spitzer and, you know, a number of different gun owners, gun dealers say the shortage should run itself out in the coming months.

DOBBS: And there's -- somebody is actively seeking to replenish the ammunition then?

BALDWIN: I talked to Remington, actually, a major manufacturer today, and hey, if you're looking for a job, that's a spot to go in Arkansas. That's...

DOBBS: So hot part of the economy.

BALDWIN: They've added a fourth shift at Remington.

DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much.


DOBBS: An upside in this economy. A bright spot.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.

DOBBS: Thanks. Brooke Baldwin.

Up next the issue that won't go away. The matter of President Obama and that birth certificate.

And now facing rising criticism from within his own party, Democrats say the cost of his health care proposals are simply too high. And they are baffled. That's their word. Not mine.


DOBBS: Joining me now are -- from Philadelphia, Don Giordano from WPHT. Don, good to have you with us. In Washington, D.C., WHFS, Guy Lambert. Guy, good to have you.

Hey, Lou.

DOBBS: Here in New York, from WOR, Dr. Joy Browne. Joy, great to have you. Let's start out with the latest poll numbers and let me begin first with you, Joy, if I may.

The president's approval rating is taking a beating. The latest poll numbers, "USA Today"/Gallup Poll showing that 44 percent approve of the job that the president is doing, 50 percent disapproving on the issue overall. What's your reaction?

JOY BROWNE, WOR IN NEW YORK: Several thoughts. First of all, I think there's no question that the people are beginning to look and say, OK, what can you really do here? But I would also argue or maybe point out, Lou, that this is not an unusual phenomenon.

DOBBS: Well, you're going to argue it, it's fine.

BROWNE: OK. You want to arm wrestle here?

DOBBS: No, you can't argue with me.

BALDWIN: OK. Sorry. Guys, I'm going to argue with you that this is not an abnormal thing to happen to a presidency. We're passed the honeymoon period.

DOBBS: Oh yes, yes. But...


DOBBS: We hear all of that. I mean we saw 66 percent approval ratings for both President Carter and President George H.W. Bush.

BALDWIN: 48 for Clinton, though, at the same time.

DOBBS: 41 percent for Clinton at the same time. Guy, your reaction?

GUY LAMBERT, WHFS IN WASHINGTON: Well, from a popularity standpoint, the president gets an A plus, plus in my opinion. I think from an image standpoint from the way...

DOBBS: Well, then we can just throw out the Gallup Poll and the "USA Today" poll and got the "Guy Lambert Poll."


LAMBERT: There you go. ABC...

DOBBS: What's your reaction to the poll, though?

LAMBERT: Well, I think overall...

DOBBS: What's causing it?

LAMBERT: Well, I think overall you've got to look at the unemployment rate. You know? We can easily say that a month ago when I appeared on your show it was at 8.5.1 percent. Now it's at 9.1 percent and even if we all sit down and hold hands and sing Kumbaya it appears that we're going to probably top out at about 10 percent by year's end.

This is a major issue for the president. This is something the president will have to deal with or else deal with Republicans in the long run.

DOBBS: For the first time the survey shows by -- on the same issue of health care reform that there's the same right. 50 percent disapprove, 44 percent approve.

Don, your thoughts?

DON GIORDANO, WPHT IN PHILADELPHIA: My thoughts, Lou, is this is a honeymoon period. That's part of it, but it's more than this...

DOBBS: Well, the honeymoon is over because 50 percent disapprove and 44 percent approve.

GIORDANO: Right, and Lou, it's so obvious to me too that a lot of people are having second thoughts more than the normal honey moon period with the unemployment rate, with the spending that we're doing, and with that health care piece of this, particularly among independents.

So I look toward independents and independent support for Obama is eroding at a pretty rapid rate.

DOBBS: Guy, you say that your listeners are concerned about unemployment. I think we could all say that. What are your listeners saying?

LAMBERT: Well, for the most part, D.C. has somewhat been not affected by the unemployment rate. D.C. right now has the number one job market in the country. That's great news for us folks here in D.C. However, you've got to keep in mind that the unemployment rate affects our family members, our friends, folks we chitchat with day in and day.

DOBBS: Your listeners are keeping their jobs and folks in Michigan are looking at 15 percent.

Joy, your thoughts?

BROWNE: I think that unemployment is the issue here because what I'm hearing is that even people who have jobs are worried about losing them. Layoffs continue downsizing, and it's effecting, as you point out, families. It's affecting marriages, it's affecting how people spend their money, how they view their retirement.

So I think unemployment -- and again, I think at this moment we're saying OK, we elected you, you're popular, what are you going to do for us? And I think it's still to be determined. It's brand new into the term but still.

DOBBS: Another issue, and that is the birth certificate. This thing is, you know, I don't know about you, I'm getting calls now. Often. And I'm not talking about (INAUDIBLE). We saw Mike Castle, Congressman Castle in Delaware. I mean he had a meeting, Don, actually -- that became the focus, the president's birth certificate.

There are those who claim that he was born, Don, in a different country. I -- you know, the president, obviously, all he has to do is just produce the original birth certificate in Hawaii and be done with it.

What are your listeners saying about this? Or are they dismissing it?

GIORDANO: No, they're not dismissing it, Lou, in fact, we're the kind of the capital city of the birthers. The guy named Phil Berg who is a personal friend.

DOBBS: Right.

GIORDANO: And I've had on over the years. My son even worked for him. He's the leading figure in this. I happen to think this is the fault of the Obama administration not producing the original records. This would've gone away. Now you have all these people that are grabbing on to this and maybe not surprisingly in the age that we live in, Lou, with conspiracies, et cetera, this has legs.

DOBBS: Yes, this -- Guy?

LAMBERT: Well, Lou, I also have to agree. You know the president, all he's actually produced thus far is a certificate of live birth, big difference from a birth certificate. Certificate of live birth typically states the city you were born in and the time you were born in.

Anyone, pretty much anyone, can obtain a certificate of live birth. You know why not produce the birth certificate? Hank, if it were me, not only would I produce a birth certificate, I'd show my bingo card, as well. But whatever it takes...

DOBBS: We had people, including reporters from the "L.A. Times," calling up because I referred to this.

BROWNE: They heard.

DOBBS: You know, and I mean, instead of calling the White House to ask why they didn't do it, they're calling me to ask why I said I don't know what the reality is. No one does.

BROWNE: But let me tell you, as a psychologist, you know what I'd do? I'd say look, I'm the president, I don't have to do it and at some point I would show it up and say see you guys are just after...

DOBBS: Yes. Are you sure that would that be the psychology of a president or some autocrat in a distant country?

BROWNE: Well...

DOBBS: As I last remember, this is a democratic republic and the people are to be respected as well citizens and...

BROWNE: But I don't know that the public is asking for it. I think.

DOBBS: Oh, you don't? Well, I do.

GIORDANO: Wait a minute, Joy...

DOBBS: You just heard all of your colleagues here say that they're listeners are.

Joy, thank you very much. Guy, thank you. Don, thank you.

LAMBERT: Always a pleasure.

DOBBS: Coming up at the top of the hour, John Roberts in for Campbell Brown. John, tell us all about it.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Lou, good evening. We're looking at what role race played in the arrest of a prominent African-American scholar after he was seen forcing his way into his own home. Police say it wasn't racism, just an unfortunate incident. Another big question tonight, should the mother of a 555-pound teenager be arrested for child neglect?

Plus tonight's newsmaker, Tom Watson who came that close to winning the British Open. All that plus our mash-up of all of the other news today. Lou?

DOBBS: Yes, Tom Watson is -- that last pot, what a heart breaker. John, thanks. Look forward to it.

We'll be right back. Stay with us.


DOBBS: A reminder to join me on the radio Monday through Fridays for the "Lou Dobbs Show," 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each afternoon on WOR, in New York City. Go to to get the local listings in your area for "The Lou Dobbs Show" on the radio.

Please follow me on, on LouDobbsNews on And yes, tomorrow on radio, we'll also be talking about health care and, of course, without question, that birth certificate.

For all of us, thanks for watching, good night from New York. Sitting in for Campbell Brown, John Roberts. John?